When he sold in 2006, Gus Demertis thought he would settle comfortably into retirement. But six years of leisure was enough and now he’s back in the business.
Last Thursday, the 40-year diner veteran opened Z-7 Classic Diner on Flatbush Avenue between Park and Sterling places, in the former home of Parkside Diner, which was shuttered by the Department of Health in October.
He said he missed being with people and "cooking good food."
"Working and being in contact with people is energy, I don't like to be alone," he said.
But, he added, “This is my last diner.”
Diners have been in the Demertis family for four generations, beginning with his grandfather, and all the way down to his daughter, who works at the Neptune Diner II on Classon Avenue. In all the family has owned 42 diners over the years, with most in the five boroughs, but also some in Florida, Chicago and Baltimore.
The renovated restaurant informally opened Friday, although not everything on the menu was available. This week the diner is in full swing and offers delivery as well as take-out and sit-down service.
Asked how the diner would be different from the Parkside, Gus said he would have more specials, and that everything would be made to order.
The menu (like the name) is classic diner, although it does sport a few interesting variations including a grilled Norwegian salmon sandwich, and a brisket wrap with onions, roast peppers and cheese.
Demertis said that opening week has been "quiet," but that he's not concerned because he hasn't begun advertising.
"It's going to be ok, we'll build business up," he said.
Z-7 Classic Diner, 355 Flatbush Ave. bet. Park and Sterling Places, 718-636-6700, open 24 hours.